The adage, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” applies in an unintended though most literal manner to the realm of estate planning. A planner who executes a well-crafted will prior to passing leaves behind a legal document that provides for both comprehension and clarity regarding vital matters like beneficiary naming, inheritances and asset distribution.
Conversely, lack of a will can quickly render post-death estate accounting and a final settlement a tortuous and even acrimonious exercise. Multiple parties demanding a piece of the estate pie are often willing to go to court to get it.
Take the case of famed musical artist Aretha Franklin, who died just a few days ago. Franklin’s talents were legendary, with her voice dominating genres from rock, pop and soul to jazz and gospel music. That Franklin reportedly left behind assets totaling scores of millions of dollars is hardly surprising.
It might surprise some readers to hear that she allegedly died without leaving a will, though. Media accounts note that multiple parties – including her four sons – have already filed court documents in the matter.
Franklin is in noted celebrity company when it comes to procrastinating about estate planning until it is too late. A recent national news publication spotlights other big-name entertainers who either failed to draft a will and/or otherwise left behind estate challenges that are still not resolved years – sometimes decades – following their deaths.
The list is truly lengthy and replete with A-list talents who left behind sizable fortunes. It includes names like Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Prince, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain.
Their tales are instructive, especially because they provide high-profile glimpses into the contention, acrimony and confusion that can surround an estate that is not sufficiently considered and legally dealt with when a planner is living.
Questions or concerns regarding any aspect of estate planning can be addressed with an experienced estate administration attorney.